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Discussion Starter #1
We are looking at a 1984 cruising boat; the boat currently has rod rigging (I don't know the age). How does it get evaluated? How does a surveyor decide "this needs a more detailed check". With wire, there are often visible indications that there's a problem, but I don't see how that could happen with the rod rigging. What's the "nominal" life time? The boat in question is a 35 foot boat that has been cruised regularly for many summers, but (AFAIK) has never been a live-aboard or long-term cruising boat.
 

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I have never had it but my understandiong of the stuff is that it reaches a certain level of fatigue and then just lets go. A professional rigger may be able to assess the state of the rods. Personally, I would be erring on the side of caution and replacing it. It's 25 years old and there may be corrosion in places you can't see.

It can probably be X-rayed if you get it off the boat.

Good Luck !
 

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Yes; it must be x-rayed and in particular at the heads and where it bends across the spreaders. The problem with this is that usually the inspection process is more expensive than switching over to wire rigging.

At 25 years old the rod rigging is near the end of it's useful life. After this point it is a gamble against "trusting" that the rigging will not fail due to fatigue; which usually results in a dis-masting if it does fail. You can never know for sure unless it is either x-rayed; or just replaced with either new rod or wire.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
OK, thanks . . . . sort of what I thought. We're budgeting for replacement if we go ahead with the offer on this boat . . . . .
 

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On my friends boat they tested the old rod on the heading machine and it could not be redone So it was declared dead
 

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FWIW, round New England there are plenty of mid to late '70s C&C stills sailng with the original rod rigging. Assume the worset for your purchase, then hire a rigger to inspect the rigiging before changing it.
 

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If you're planning on cruising to more remote regions, switching to wire rigging is a very good idea, since carrying a spare shroud or stay is much simpler with wire rigging.
 

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OK, thanks . . . . sort of what I thought. We're budgeting for replacement if we go ahead with the offer on this boat . . . . .
Or what you could do is have a rigging survey done and the surveyor would pretty much recommend replacement. You could then deduct it from the value of the boat in your post-survey valuation/price adjustment.
 

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If you decide to stick with the existing rigging, take the time to slacken things off and check that the heads are not seized in the sockets. If possible at that time lube the area with lanacote.

When a rod stresses (as in going over a wave) it tends to twist a bit as it loads. If the head cannot move then the rod fatigues below the seized head and can eventually fail there.... no need to ask how I know!
 

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Well

From what i have seen when rod is 20 years old and its been used hard the heading machine tells the truth as it will not take a NEW head
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Or what you could do is have a rigging survey done and the surveyor would pretty much recommend replacement. You could then deduct it from the value of the boat in your post-survey valuation/price adjustment.
Actually this makes even more sense . . . . thanks! I wonder if riggers will do this with the rig off the boat?
 

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Actually this makes even more sense . . . . thanks! I wonder if riggers will do this with the rig off the boat?
Although this sounds good in theory I highly doubt it would effect the price of the boat much as many older boats of this size have the original rigging and you can basically get any surveyor or marine mechanic to say any part of a boat that old needs to be replaced.

With that said, I would highly recommend to replace it yourself whether you get money deducted or not. This year was my 2nd year with my boat which had original rigging from 83' (looked excellent though with no visible problems). Well on the first sail of the season 3 weeks ago I lost the forstay/furler and the halyard was the only thing supporting the front of the mast. I am now going through the process of replacing all standing rigging and a brand new furler. Although it hurts big time on the wallet, the new rigging looks awesome and it gives me a lot more peace of mind.

From the research I have done it seems like rod rigging is a lot harder to detect problems with so it makes it even more important to proactively change it. Good luck with your purchase though!
 

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Read the info on rig life at the Navtec site:
http://www.navtec.net/docs/RiggingService.pdf
NAVTEC Rigging Solutions

You can have the rod heads die tested by a rigger that knows rod for reasonable costs. Rod tends to last longer than wire and stay in better shape. Rod tends to go at the heads and the fittings. Fittings on wire also go. The advice above to change from rod to wire is suspect. Your mast is designed for rod - the engineering and parts replacement to move to wire is probably not worth it.

Paul L
 

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nk235 said:
Although this sounds good in theory I highly doubt it would effect the price of the boat much as many older boats of this size have the original rigging and you can basically get any surveyor or marine mechanic to say any part of a boat that old needs to be replaced.
Rigging survey is common for a pre-purchase; just as is a hull or engine. It is in essence the "engine" that drives a sailboat (unless you have a non-stayed cat rig). The mast and rig is a very expensive part of a sailboat and if it is not obvious that it needs replacement (failed wire meathooks) or similar then you need a survey to tell you what the problems are or what the condition is. For 25 year old rod I'd say that a rigging surveyor would simply report that it is time to either thououghly inspect and re-head or replace. Usually for rigging this old the recommendation is to replace because where rod it bent across spreaders is suspect and it can't be spliced there. A surveyor who does rigging surveys will go aloft and check several areas of the mast and rigging in addition to the shrouds themselves. To buy a boat without a rigging survey is basically accepting the problem for yourself to pay for/fix. It is no different than buying a boat with a rotted deck or hull core; and you would not do that would you?


You can have the rod heads die tested by a rigger that knows rod for reasonable costs. Rod tends to last longer than wire and stay in better shape. Rod tends to go at the heads and the fittings. Fittings on wire also go. The advice above to change from rod to wire is suspect. Your mast is designed for rod - the engineering and parts replacement to move to wire is probably not worth it.
For the money it costs to properly x-ray inspect a 25 year old rig; you could have bought 1/2 of the wire job. Die does not show fatigue; it only shows surface cracks. Yes fittings on wire rigs also fail but in most cases it is non-catastrophic. With wire rigging -usually- you will have a wire strand fail or a swage crack and that is the indication that it is time to replace everything. Normally it does not "snap" like rod will when it has reached it's fatigue limit.

You could replace the rod but everything should be replaced and the cost would be over twice that to do the job with wire; which is usually why people who cruise tend to do wire replacement over rod (and SD's comment about easier to jury rig is also applicable.

In -most- cases wire can be directly fit to a boat originally rigged in rod. And if you don't replace all of the tangs and fittings you might as well have left the old rigging up there because everything should be replaced when you re-rig.

If it were me I would get the concession from the seller for the rod rigging (reduction in price); then replace with dyform wire.
 

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Rigging survey is common for a pre-purchase; just as is a hull or engine. It is in essence the "engine" that drives a sailboat (unless you have a non-stayed cat rig). The mast and rig is a very expensive part of a sailboat and if it is not obvious that it needs replacement (failed wire meathooks) or similar then you need a survey to tell you what the problems are or what the condition is. For 25 year old rod I'd say that a rigging surveyor would simply report that it is time to either thououghly inspect and re-head or replace. Usually for rigging this old the recommendation is to replace because where rod it bent across spreaders is suspect and it can't be spliced there. A surveyor who does rigging surveys will go aloft and check several areas of the mast and rigging in addition to the shrouds themselves. To buy a boat without a rigging survey is basically accepting the problem for yourself to pay for/fix. It is no different than buying a boat with a rotted deck or hull core; and you would not do that would you?
I agree with you on this that in the rigging is very important and is essentially the engine that helps drive the boat. On the other hand how do you know that the seller of the boat hasn't taken the fact that he has original rigging into consideration into the price of the boat? Its one thing if he claims the rigging is recent and in perfect condition and then your survey reveals other wise but in most cases when you are buying a 20+ year old boat it you are going to expect to have to have many projects and upgrades to do. For instance if I were selling a boat that had the original rigging and made that plain and clear in the listing - I would not be willing to lower the price $5k-$8k because your supposed to upgrade your rigging every 10 years. But on the other hand if I led the potential buyer to believe that the rigging was in perfect shape and new, and then its determined its the original and in poor shape then that is a different story.

All I am trying to say is that in many cases boats in the low 30 ft range well over 20 years old are going to need updating and in many cases the original asking price will reflect this and that is why there are so many different prices for the same exact year and model boat out there. There are so many different factors that play into asking price vs what the buyer comes backs and tries to negotiate for and a lot of it is relevant to the condition of the boat and how much they generally sell for. I would say def try and negotiate money off for the rigging but generally I would say it is unrealistic to expect a seller to just drop the price xxx amount of dollars because the boat needs some work. Anyway thats just my opinion and didn't want the OP to get their hopes up.
 

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You are correct in saying that many owners expect the buyer to take the boat without concession for rigging replacement as one of the "fixes" that an older boat would need. But that is where you come to surveyed valuation with asking price taken into account. If the seller has a boat that is in nice condition (well maintained, newer sails, recent refits, good non-obsolete equipment, etc) is asking top dollar aside from the need for a re-rig; then yes the re-rig is a negotiation point. He wants top dollar but the rigging is "dead" and that could be ~15k or more in addition for the buyer (say it's a 40' sloop). So depending on what the overall valuation is by the surveyor; the boat could be worth less than asking because of the need for a re-rig.

Of course the surveyor could find that even with a rig that needs replacement the asking price is far enough below the valuation to justify buying the boat and re-rigging yourself. In that instance the surveyor would value the boat at or near the asking price and the buyer would then know that a re-rig is his responsibility for safety and/or to obtain insurance.
 

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....
For the money it costs to properly x-ray inspect a 25 year old rig; you could have bought 1/2 of the wire job. Die does not show fatigue; it only shows surface cracks. Yes fittings on wire rigs also fail but in most cases it is non-catastrophic. With wire rigging -usually- you will have a wire strand fail or a swage crack and that is the indication that it is time to replace everything. Normally it does not "snap" like rod will when it has reached it's fatigue limit.

You could replace the rod but everything should be replaced and the cost would be over twice that to do the job with wire; which is usually why people who cruise tend to do wire replacement over rod (and SD's comment about easier to jury rig is also applicable.

In -most- cases wire can be directly fit to a boat originally rigged in rod. And if you don't replace all of the tangs and fittings you might as well have left the old rigging up there because everything should be replaced when you re-rig.

If it were me I would get the concession from the seller for the rod rigging (reduction in price); then replace with dyform wire.
Doing a die test on the heads and thoroughly inspecting the rod would probably result in a better inspected rig than most wire rig inspections get.

I hear this talk often that rod has catastrophic failure and wire gracefully degrades in its failure modes. Most rigging failures come from the failures at the fittings. Whether the rig comes slamming down or not has to do with the amount of redundancy in the rigging, the safety factors designed in, the speed of the crew and luck. Not rod vs wire.

You would have to go up in size in wire to get the same breaking strength and stretch characteristics. This means more weight and windage in the rig. Not where you want it.

It is really a moot point in this case, 25 year old rigging, wire or rod, is at the end of its service life.

Paul L
 

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It's a known fact that rod rigging has a fatigue limit and when that limit is reached it WILL fail by snapping. This is because it can't be easily inspected for fatigue; and since it is a solid material the microcracks can grow within the section until there is not enough solid cross section to support the load.

Wire rigging is safer because when it reaches the point of fatigue failure it won't snap all at once. It breaks strands and in most cases the broken strands are noticed before the rigging fails catastrophically.

Whether most rig failures occur at the fittings is regardless of the fact that when rod fails it fails by snapping. Where do you get that info? I never heard of there being some sort of rig failure database that catalogs how/why masts come down. Swaged ends on wire rigging may fail before the wire itself but usually a cracked swage is seen before the strength of the rigging is compromised.

It is really a moot point in this case, 25 year old rigging, wire or rod, is at the end of its service life.
That's why I suggested he get it in writing so there could be an adjustment in the boat sale price. Rod is more expensive that wire; and while some say that it will last much longer I don't know if the price for new rod and all it's special fittings is worth it. For a racing boat it might be worth the performance; but for a cruising boat I don't know if it is worth paying ~3x the cost of wire.

Safety factor and redundancy = weight; and usually rod systems (in racer/cruiser applications) are designed to minimize aloft weight. There is some safety factor designed in but it is not "redundant". I don't think I have seen a modern rig that has redundant shrouds.
 

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Keelhaulin,
I agree that wire is an easier, cheaper solution and has advantages for a cruising boat. Just being able to use end fittings like StaLoks makes a lot of repairs a reasonable DIY job while in the middle of no where. Changing a boat over from rod to wire is still something that I'd think hard about before doing.

Paul L
 

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You are correct in saying that many owners expect the buyer to take the boat without concession for rigging replacement as one of the "fixes" that an older boat would need. But that is where you come to surveyed valuation with asking price taken into account. If the seller has a boat that is in nice condition (well maintained, newer sails, recent refits, good non-obsolete equipment, etc) is asking top dollar aside from the need for a re-rig; then yes the re-rig is a negotiation point. He wants top dollar but the rigging is "dead" and that could be ~15k or more in addition for the buyer (say it's a 40' sloop). So depending on what the overall valuation is by the surveyor; the boat could be worth less than asking because of the need for a re-rig.

Of course the surveyor could find that even with a rig that needs replacement the asking price is far enough below the valuation to justify buying the boat and re-rigging yourself. In that instance the surveyor would value the boat at or near the asking price and the buyer would then know that a re-rig is his responsibility for safety and/or to obtain insurance.
Exactly. That was what I was trying to get at that rigging replacement costs, value of the boat and asking price range are all factors and have to be taken into consideration. Well said
 
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